Coachella renters raise health concerns over in-home inspections

Olivia Sandusky

Tenants at Orchard Villas Apartments in Coachella tell NBC Palm Springs they are uncomfortable with management’s latest request.

A written notice says the kitchen, bathrooms and balconies of all units will be inspected, and even if the renter isn’t home, staff will enter the property anyway.

“They say, we’re going to do the inspection no matter whether you’re there or not, we still have the key to walk through it. Like they don’t do maintenance or anything,” said an anonymous renter who reached out to NBC Palm Springs to see if the inspection is legal. 

The renter says he’s uncomfortable letting staff into his home when he’s not there, and a civil rights attorney says he shouldn’t have to.

“In California, the law allows inspection of rented apartments or houses in some circumstances, but not anytime that the owner wants. So, some examples of circumstances where inspection would be permitted is when a repair is needed in a unit or the unit is being sold. And, of course, if there are urgent emergencies happening in unit. But other than that, owners of houses and apartments do not have the right to enter a house or apartment without a serious and substantial reason,” said Megan Beaman-Jacinto, a civil rights attorney. 

Renters at the complex are also concerned about having staff inside during the pandemic.

The written notice did not ask tenants to notify them if anyone in their household has been exposed to the virus.

The anonymous renter tells us one of his neighbors tried to let the office know.

“She said that she emailed them saying she didn’t want anyone inside her apartment because she was exposed to COVID and they never responded,” said the anonymous renter. 

NBC Palm Springs reached out to the managers about the inspection, but they never responded.

Renters are also unable to go to the office in-person due to COVID restrictions.

Beaman-Jacinto says landlords should use good judgment when requesting access.

“On this specific topic there is no special rule applying just because of the pandemic as far as whether landlords can enter or not or when they can enter or not enter. No matter the circumstances, 24 hours written notice of the entry is required, and that type of notice is more important now than ever because families are at risk of potentially becoming sick and even risking their lives if they’re exposed to people contracting COVID,” said Beaman-Jacinto. 

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